How My Sister Supports Me On My Journey With Lupus
Last updated: May 2023
Like many siblings, I did not always get along with my sister when we were growing up. We were born three years apart and we were different people. She was an extrovert and I was an introvert. She was certainly more social than me. She listened to hip hop and r&b music while I listened to pop and rock. Our annual car rides to Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, Illinois to see our grandmothers meant that we argued over space in the backseat, shared the radio station, or shared toys. She wanted to attend a college near home; I wanted to travel out of state. She wanted to remain in Georgia after she obtained her degrees while I had my eyes set on moving to Seattle, Washington, after law school.
Sibling bond and support
I truly did not recognize how close my sister and I were until our college years. My mother and my cousin were diagnosed with cancer once I moved back to Georgia. When we received word of diagnoses, my sister became a superwoman. There were moments in which she was juggling my lupus, my mother’s cancer, and my cousin’s cancer in 1 year. She would drive us to the doctor’s appointments and help us get dressed. She opened jars, bottles, boxes, and carried my books. As time progressed, I was able to pitch in as my lupus moved toward remission. I certainly thank God that I was home and not away during this period.
Diagnosed with lupus nephritis
When I was diagnosed with lupus nephritis in 2004, I ceased my desire to move to Washington. I returned to my home in Georgia just months after obtaining my Juris doctorate and began chemotherapy. My return was not without purpose. My sister (along with my entire family) advocated for me in the doctor’s office and she sat with me during chemo treatments. If I moved from one apartment to another, my sister organized the entire move. She always checked on me every time I was admitted into a hospital. She even worked for me and Judge Cole for several months when our office assistant was on medical leave. She moved to South Florida for 4 years; even then she did whatever she could to make sure that I was okay. She now drives over to my house at least once a month to help me clean or take care of the yard.
My sibling is my rock
I really call her my big sister even though she is 3 years younger than me because she is always by my side. In 2009, I almost died from anaphylactic shock as a result of taking Ace Inhibitor drugs that were prescribed to protect my kidneys post-lupus nephritis. Luckily, I was spending the night with my mother and sister during the episode so that I could make it to a doctor’s appointment in the morning. I remember waking up from my sleep physically gasping for air. I remember my sister and my mother ran to me as I tried desperately to breathe through my nose. I remember my sister screaming at the 911 operator about the situation. I remember my sister being impatient with the triage nurse who did not understand the severity of the situation.
Things happen for a reason
I am a spiritual person. I believe that we are all guided by a higher power and I believe that things happen for a reason. I was preordained to return home to Georgia instead of moving to Washington because I was on the cusp of developing lupus nephritis. I believe that God set things in motion so that we would all be in my mother’s house at that time and that place. I believe that there was a reason why I was in my mother’s house instead of my own apartment the evening I suffered from anaphylaxis. We are not all in control of our destiny, but we are in control of how we use the steps we take, the obstacles that get in our way, the path we take, and the gifts we are given to find peace.
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?